Rough pro debut for Napier

John F. Silver

The last time we saw Shabazz Napier he was leading UConn to the NCAA title against a loaded Kentucky team.

The Miami Heat’s first round draft pick last week made his pro debut on Saturday in the Orlando Summer League where he struggled immensely in an 85-77 loss to the Celtics.

Napier shot 3 of 15 in the game, scoring 12 points, and also had eight turnovers in the notoriously loosely played games. Napier struggled with the pressure put on by Celtics guard Phil Pressey and also the length and bulk at times of Celtics first round pick Marcus Smart. Smart, in comparison, was 2 of 8 shooting, but had 10 points, five rebounds and five steals.

The Heat will play the Nets at 7 p.m. on Sunday in Orlando.

Napier’s role in Miami

 

John F. Silver

Shabazz Napier was LeBron James’ favorite player.

Shabazz Napier holds up the NCAA title trophy for fans during a victory celebration in April. (Photo Credit: UConn)

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the King himself.

“It’s something special to know that one of the best players in the world thinks about you and appreciates your talent,” said Napier. “That’s something I’m so humble for.”

So is it any wonder the Heat traded up to get the UConn All-American?

This isn’t just about satisfying James and hoping he resigns with the Heat. There’s a need in Miami for exactly what Napier can do — defend, pass and shoot the ball.

Napier’s used to taking and making big shots, and when James is on the floor having shotmakers is a premium.  The fact he can perform under pressure and the spotlight makes him an even more attractive option for the Heat.

“He’s a winner,” Heat president Pat Riley said via the Sun-Sentinnel. “I think he’s talented and he’s skilled. You just have to watch him play the game and there’s a competitive level that we all like.”

The Heat were so focused on getting Napier they were using Norris Cole as bait to move into the mid-first round to take him. When Napier started to slip, the Heat didn’t have to part with their other experienced bench guard.

Napier may very well step into the starting role as Mario Chalmers, who has started for the Heat much of the last four years, really struggled in the playoffs to make shots. Chalmers averaged 9.4 ppg. this season for the Heat, but that dropped to 6.8 in the playoffs. He’s a free agent and is due around the $4 million mark. Chalmers averaged 4.4 per game in the Finals and shot only 33 percent.

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Daniels taken No. 37 by Raptors

John F. Silver

DeAndre Daniels became the second UConn player taken in the NBA draft with the 37th pick, 7th of the second round, by the Toronto Raptors.

Daniels was an early-entrant candidate having left after his junior year and a strong NCAA tournament run.  Daniels was second on UConn in scoring at 13.1 ppg. and shot 47 percent from the floor and more importantly 41.7 percent from 3-point range. At 6-foot-8, that shooting is what makes him attractive in the NBA.

With his drafting, UConn has had 40 players taken in the NBA draft in its history. That doesn’t include Alex Oriakhi and Ater Majok, who were drafted after they had left UConn.


Daniels could have come back for another year and if he had a strong season would probably have put himself into the first round. He was taken in the first 10 picks of the second round, but any pick after 30 isn’t guaranteed and Daniels is going to have to make the NBA roster.

Heat after Napier?

John F. Silver

Shabazz Napier has a lot of fans, but is there one in the NBA bigger than LeBron James?

James tweeted in April that he thought Napier was the best PG in the draft.

Was he serious?

According to Chad Ford, the Heat are looking to move up in the draft and target Napier.

Here’s Chad Ford on the Heat and Napier:

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Napier in the NBA Draft green room

John F. Silver

Shabazz Napier wasn’t on some two-round mock drafts at the beginning of the season.

Next week, Napier will be in the green room for the NBA Draft, which means the senior is expected to go in the first round.

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UConn’s day at the White House

John F. Silver

UConn spent Monday afternoon at the White House in what’s become an annual appearance for the women, a special one for the men with their second one in four years.

Here are the remarks from the White House and President Barack Obama: To read more of this story, click here

GEICO SportsNite: UConn at the White House

GEICO SportsNite covers both the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams’ trip to the White House to meet President Barack Obama. Later, SNY’s Michelle Yu chats with both Geno Auriemma and Kevin Ollie.

>> SNY’s Michelle Yu chats with UConn Women’s head coach Geno Auriemma on the White House lawn

>> SNY’s Michelle Yu chats with UConn Men’s head coach Kevin Ollie on the White House lawn

Ali de-commits from UConn

John F. Silver

Florida guard prospect Prince Ali announced on twitter that he has decided to de-commit from UConn and will open up his recruiting.

Ali led his Sagemont High (Weston, Fla.) team to a 33-0 record as a junior this past season. Ali’s a -foot-4 180-pound shooting guard prospect. The Huskies are coming off a national title, Kevin Ollie signed a contract extension, so the de-commitment is perplexing, but he did say the Huskies will remain in consideration.

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UConn 18-game men’s conference schedule set

John F. Silver

UConn’s road in the American Athletic Conference is set for the 20-14-15 season.

The league released the pairings of the men’s basketball schedule this season with UConn playing , SMU, Cincinnati and Memphis at home this season as the marquee games. UConn also plays new entries Tulsa, East Carolina and Tulane home and away this year.

UConn

Home: UCF, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa

Away: Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa

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